In case you’ve been interminably oblivious to most sports television programs and websites this week, there’s been some major breaking news: Michael Jordan turned 50 on Sunday.
OK, so that’s not exactly “breaking news”; I mean, we’ve known for exactly five decades that this would happen on this very day. But the attention Jordan has received simply for adding another candle to his cake should have one faction of the population licking their chops inquisitively.
Champions Tour tournament directors.
On a circuit largely beholden to Fred Couples for any sort of mainstream attention, offering a sponsor’s exemption to the newest 50-year-old would certainly afford a shot in the arm that is desperately needed.
With a handicap index believed to be around 6, the former NBA superstar would have a difficult time qualifying for a tournament on merit, but could be given a sponsor’s exemption. According to a Champions Tour spokesperson, there are no minimums necessary to grant such an exemption, which means that tournaments would be free to offer one and Jordan would be free to accept unconditionally.
It would hardly be the first instance of a tour trying to increase its spectrum by inviting a pro jock. From former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench competing in Champions Tour events years ago to ex-San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice playing a few Web.com tourneys, big names can bring big attention to an event – and big scores, too.
When I tweeted about this possibility for Jordan on Sunday, the account for the Toshiba Classic quickly responded, “sponsor exemption time!” While that was more of a quick joke than breaking news, the prospect of seeing him tee it up in a Champions Tour event could soon turn serious.
The guess here is that just about every tournament on the schedule would love to have him. But would the hyper-competitive Jordan, knowing he would almost positively finish in last place for the week, accept such an invitation, leaving himself open to ridicule? The answer to that question remains to be seen.